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Wade v. Green

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 21, 2019

MATTHEW WADE, JR., Plaintiff
v.
WARDEN KATHLEEN GREEN, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Paul W. Grimm, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Matthew Wade filed this civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging various claims under the Eighth Amendment. ECF No. 1. Defendants Warden Kathleen Green, Assistant Warden Robert Hanke, Correctional Officer Christopher Cavins, Lt. K. Stuckey, and Sgt. Muncey (“Correctional Defendants”) filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 13, and a Memorandum in Support, ECF No. 13-2. Defendants Registered Nurse Melanie Griffin and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Medical Defendants”) also filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 30, and a Memorandum in Support, ECF No. 30-3. Plaintiff has responded to both Motions. ECF Nos. 26, 26-2, 34. Defendants have not filed a reply, and the time for doing so has passed. See Loc. R. 105.2(a). The matter is now ripe for review. A hearing is not necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6.

         For the reasons that follow, Correctional Defendants' dispositive Motion, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, is GRANTED as to Defendants Green, Hanke, and Stuckey and DENIED as to Defendants Cavins and Muncey. Medical Defendants' Motion, also construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, is GRANTED as to Wexford Health Sources and DENIED as to Griffin. The Court will appoint counsel to represent Plaintiff.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff's Evidence-Based Assertions

         In his sworn Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that, upon being transferred to ECI on December 29, 2014, he was informed by Officer in Charge Andrade that he would be assigned to Housing Unit 6D. Compl. 3; see also Pl.'s Decl., ECF No. 26-3 (reiterating many of the facts stated in the Complaint). Plaintiff believed that he had enemies in Unit 6D, although he did not know their names. Compl. 3. Plaintiff informed Andrade that, although he did not want to be noncompliant, he was refusing to be housed in Unit 6D. Id. Plaintiff asked to speak with a supervisor outside of the presence of the other inmates on Unit 6D. Id. Andrade acceded to his request and took Plaintiff to speak with Defendant Cavins that same day. Id. at 3-4.

         Cavins asked Plaintiff why he was refusing housing and Plaintiff “inform[ed] Cavins that there are two inmates that are housed in unit 6 D tier that are his enemies.” Id. at 4. At Cavins' request, Plaintiff made a written statement about his concerns with Unit 6D. Id. In its entirety, the statement read: “I been housed in housing unit 6, unfortunately I made some enemies!! I don't feel comfortable being housed there. It's not a good way to start my stay here at ECI.” Pl.'s Stmt. 3, ECF No. 1-1.

         Andrade issued a notice of inmate rule violation on December 29, 2014, which Cavins “approved and signed, ” charging Plaintiff with disobeying an order and refusing to accept a housing assignment. Compl. 4; Notice of Violation, ECF No. 1-2. Due to the disciplinary charges, Plaintiff was “escorted to disciplinary segregation, ” where he spent the next “four weeks in solitary confinement locked in a cell 23 hours a day pending an adjustment hearing.” Compl. 4.

         On January 28, 2015, Plaintiff's disciplinary hearing was held for the December 29, 2014 charges. Defendant Muncey was the facility representative; Scott Rowe (who is not named as a Defendant) was the hearing officer and conducted the hearing using video conferencing. Id. at 5. Plaintiff alleges that,

[b]efore the hearing took place, the plaintiff and defendant Muncey had a brief conversation regarding a plea agreement. Plaintiff Wade informed Muncey that he is pleading not guilty to the rule violations because he practically begged the officers that day to not send him to unit 6 specifically D tier because of the risks of being seriously harmed by enemies.
. . . Documentation shows that Plaintiff informed Muncey that he is unable to provide both first and last names of his enemies but is very familiar with their alias (nicknames). Plaintiff made it clear that he is very aware of his enemies['] housing location because plaintiff recently was housed in Unit 6 D tier approx. 18 months prior. Muncey however failed to cooperate with plaintiff and utilize other methods to help positively identify his enemies to help his unsafe situation. Plaintiff expressed and was reasonably convincing to Muncey that there is a strong likely hood [sic] that violence would occur and he would be harmed even killed if housed in Unit 6 D tier. . . .
Furthermore, plaintiff Wade explained to both Muncey and Scott Rowe . . . that he was once a suspect in a particular criminal investigation in which a man died. Plaintiff offered Muncey a chance to read paperwork to support his explanation but Muncey declined to. Plaintiff stated that the victim in that case and his enemies are close relatives. Plaintiff also stated that this is a retaliation situation because his enemies are convinced that he was a suspect and therefore somewhat responsible.

Id. at 5-6. Despite Plaintiff's stated concerns for his safety, Muncey failed to investigate or “respond reasonably” to Plaintiff's allegations regarding his enemies in housing unit 6D. Id. at 6.

         The day after his disciplinary hearing, Plaintiff was returned to general population.[1] Plaintiff was informed by an unspecified officer that he would be placed in housing unit 6D. Id. Plaintiff states that he “questioned the officer to see if he heard him correctly because plaintiff just spent the past four weeks locked down . . . to avoid that particular unit and tier because of safety reasons. Plaintiff was confused because officers are aware of his concerns for his safety.” Id. The officer confirmed that Plaintiff would be placed in housing unit 6D. Id. Plaintiff does not state that the officer personally had pre-existing awareness of Plaintiff's safety concerns, nor does Plaintiff state that he personally informed the officer about his concerns.

         Plaintiff was placed in housing unit 6D where, on February 13, 2015, “he was attacked by two enemies whom plaintiff made prison officials aware of.” Id. Plaintiff reports that he was violently assaulted to the point of unconsciousness and that he sustained “several injuries” that he still suffered from at the time he filed suit in late 2017. Id.

         Following the assault, Plaintiff was taken to the medical department, where he was seen by Defendant Nurse Melanie Griffin. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Griffin “very quickly scanned Wade's head and face only. Griffin failed to observe Wade's assault wounds that were beneath his clothing. Griffin failed to notice physical multiple [sic] contusions and multiple abrasions and swelling.” Id. at 6-7. Plaintiff informed

Griffin that his pain was a 10 “on a scale of 1 through 10, ” and asked to go to the hospital. Id. at 7. Griffin denied his request, and informed Plaintiff that no doctor would be at the facility for the next three days. Id. Plaintiff claims that Griffin ignored Wade's constant complaints of pain to his shoulder, lower back and head area. Griffin then gave Wade paperwork so that he could receive ice twice a day for the next 3 days until the doctor was available. Griffin also gave Wade only one pain reliever for all his injuries.

Id.; see also Med. Assignment, ECF No. 1-7.

         After being seen by Griffin, Plaintiff “was escorted to the rear of the Medical Department and placed in a[n] observation cell. Per defendant K. Stuckey, Wade was placed on admin. segregation and informed that he would be seen against within 96 hours.” Compl. 7; Notice of Assignment, ECF No. 1-8. Plaintiff claims that inmates on the ordinary administrative segregation unit are allowed appliances and other personal property but that he was not allowed such items, “without any penological justification.” Compl. 7. Plaintiff further alleges that Stuckey's decision to place him in the observation cell “wasn't warranted by any reasonable penological or psychological interest, causing plaintiff Wade increase[d] stress.” Id. at 8.

         Plaintiff alleges that he remained in the observation cell for eight days. He states that, during this time, he was denied ice, pain medication, and medical treatment, despite the fact that the observation cell was located within the medical department. Id. He describes the conditions of the cell as “intolerable, ” stating that “he was forced to live alone in a dark empty cell that exposed him to very cold temperatures” and lacked “personal amenities.” Id. Plaintiff states that his “complaints and concerns to [unnamed] corr. officers fell on dea[f] ears.” Id.

         Plaintiff submitted a sick call request on February 19, 2015, but he was not seen by medical personnel until five days later. Id. at 8-9; Sick Call Request, ECF No. 1-9. At that time, eleven days after the assault, an unnamed medical provider noted that plaintiff still had swelling but did not provide any medication. Compl. 9; Feb. 24, 2015 Med. Rec., ECF No. 1-13 (stating that he would be “refer[red] to pa [physician's assistant] for further eval”). On March 5, 2015, several days after Plaintiff initiated an administrative grievance with the prison, he was seen by Nurse Practioner Kathleen Storm, who informed Plaintiff that Griffin had “failed to put in necessary paperwork for plaintiff to see a doctor.” Compl. 9; see also ...


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